Lions win weekend baseball series with Bronchos

Apr. 7—After losing the first in a three-game baseball series, Missouri Southern decisively took Games 2 and 3, beating the Central Oklahoma Bronchos 11-1 Saturday and 17-6 Sunday, both run-rule wins.

MSSU improved to 30-9 (17-6 MIAA), and Southern's Henry Kusiak positioned himself to break the team's career RBI record.

Garrett Rice on Monday was named the MIAA Hitter of the Week. Over the three games, he recorded a batting average of .538, going 7-13 at the plate. Of those seven hits, two were doubles and one was a three-run home run, driving in a total of 10 runs and scoring another five himself.

On the season, Rice is hitting .300 with a .609 slugging percentage. He has recorded 33 hits, eight being doubles, one triple, and eight home runs, driving in 39 runs which is the third-most on the team, according to the MIAA.

Sunday game

The Lions started Sunday with that three-run home run by Rice.

The Bronchos brought home four runs in the second inning, and another in the third, making it 5-3.

The Lions scored again in the third inning, followed by two more in the fourth, thanks to a Nate Mieszkowski two-run homer.

Rice drove in two runs with a double in the fifth inning, Drew Davis drove in Rice, and then Drew Townsend then hit a two-run single to right.

In the bottom of the seventh, Henry Kusiak drove in Chayton Beck on a single. With that, Kusiak tied the MSSU career RBI record at 206. Wyatt Morgan drove in Kusiak on a sacrifice fly, and the Lions climbed to 14-6.

Beck secured the game with a two-run homer.

Michael Moore was credited with the win, pitching four innings. Rice had five RBIs

Kusiak ended the game Sunday one RBI from setting a school record.

Saturday game

The Lions won game two 11-1 in seven innings on Saturday.

Southern scored its first two runs in the first inning, and Central Oklahoma scored a run in the second, but that was it for the Bronchos.

Southern's lead climbed to 4-1 in the third, and the Lions scored another in the sixth. In the seventh, Townsend hit a double to right, and made it to third on a wild pitch. Will Doherty walked and Morgan was hit by a pitch, loading bases. Rice hit a double, bringing in two more, followed by two more runs after a wild pitch and a throwing error. That made it 9-1 Southern.

With Treghan Parker on base, Davis hit a home run, ending the game via the run rule, 11-1.

Trent Harris went six innings for the win. Rice went 3-4 with a double, driving in five runs and scoring another himself. Davis was 2-4 with a home run and a double, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored.

Friday game

UCO (29-9, 15-8 MIAA) took Game 1 by a score of 7-5 after taking advantage of some early free passes and hit batters by MSSU's starting pitcher, Cole Gayman.

The Bronchos added two runs on wild pitches from reliever Brandon Overman in the seventh inning to make it 7-3 at the time.

"We did not play well enough in all phases to win," MSSU head coach Bryce Darnell said after Friday's game. "We gave them a lot and still had a couple chances. ... We had our chances even though we did not play well. So, there's a positive there."

The series was a key one for the MIAA standings and even national implications.

"Both teams were into it from the beginning and both teams know what it means and that was a really good baseball game," UCO head coach John Martin said.

Those chances Darnell mentioned did come for MSSU.

The Lions had a runner on base with two outs when Martin went out to pull starting pitcher Brady Gilmore. Racer Felter replaced Gilmore.

Felter's first pitch was sent well beyond the 330-foot mark on the left field fence by Kusiak, but it also went well to the left of the left-field foul pole into foul territory. That pitch was on the inside part of the plate and Kusiak jumped all over it but got too far out in front.

"Henry thought maybe he should have kept it fair, he told me. He didn't think it was too far inside to keep it fair," Darnell said.

Kusiak then fell behind 0-2, battled back to work the count in his favor, and then singled on a ground ball through the infield.

Felter got Will Doherty to strand both runners on a ground ball to third base that turned into a fielder's choice as UCO's Garrett Long tagged the runner out headed to third.

"He (Felter) did a good job and obviously Kusiak's a really good player," Martin said. "He's a veteran and knows how to hit."

The next chance for the home team came in the bottom of the seventh. Garrett Rice led off the inning with a short, soft pop up to the pitcher that went just beyond the mound.

UCO's Austin Burda backpedalled off the mound and got under the ball but it kicked off the heel of his glove and fell to the grass, allowing Rice to reach safely. Burda then walked Beck and Rice was stealing on that pitch.

The Bronchos' catcher Matt Baughn fired the ball down to second base despite it being a walk and Rice being rewarded second base automatically. The throw got away and ended up in center field which let Rice move up to third base.

Drew Townsend hit a deep fly into right-center field that drove in Rice to make it 7-4. Wyatt Morgan was hit by a pitch, Kusiak was walked and that loaded the bases for Doherty. Doherty grounded out to second base scoring Beck to make it 7-5.

But then Treghan Parker skied one on the infield that retired the side and stranded runners on second and third.

In the bottom of the eighth, score still 7-5, Morgan came up with the sacks full for Southern and failed to do any damage as he rolled over to the second baseman to end the inning.

Felter earned the win for the Bronchos making him 3-0 on the year. Valek Cisneros got his 12th save of the season with a clean ninth frame striking out two batters and allowing no baserunners.

"They're good, man. We're good. We just have to play better and they outplayed us tonight," Darnell said.

Gayman (7-1) was handed his first loss on the season.